About one third of the 153 candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council (LegCo) election left no contact details on their nomination forms, making it difficult for the public or press to contact them, Ming Pao newspaper reported.

DAB flags flying in Kennedy Town during the 2021 Legislative Council election nomination period. File Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

Most of those who omitted such details are running in special interest sectors known as functional constituencies or as members of a new and more powerful Election Committee,

Nomination forms submitted for the December 19 poll are viewable at a government office. Ming Pao found during a review of the records that 54 candidates did not leave a telephone number on their nomination forms, while 47 of the 54 left neither a phone number nor an email address.

Of the 54 individuals, 27 are running in functional constituencies and 22 are Election Committee members. Under a political overhaul ordered by Beijing, the expanded 1,500-member committee will choose 40 of the 90 Legislative Council members.

Five of the candidates for the 10 geographical constituencies in which residents directly elect their representative did not supply a phone number, including Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Ng Chau-pei and pro-democracy candidate Mandy Tam.

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In March Beijing approved a political overhaul to ensure only “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The electoral amendments sharply reduce democratic representation in the legislature, tighten control over elections and introduce a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates.

The overhaul placed more restrictions on who may run and vote in functional constituencies, significantly shrinking the voter pool for the 30 functional seats. There are just 20 geographical constituencies, meaning ordinary voters will elect 22 per cent of LegCo members compared to half before.

Call from constituents

Chairman of the Democratic Party Lo Kin-hei – which has no candidates in the race – said it was “hard to understand” why some candidates failed to supply contact information through which constituents, the press and the wider public could contact them.

Lo Kin-hei. File Photo: Lo Kin-hei, via Facebook.

He said candidates did not in any case have to supply a home number.

“Most of these phone numbers would be office numbers, not private numbers. They are typically answered by [campaign] staffers,” Lo told HKFP. Candidates in elections would usually welcome contact from their constituents, he said.

Lo, a district councillor in the Southern District until he resigned in July, said constituents reach out to their local representatives all the time by phone or by email. “They won’t stop contacting us because there is an election going on,” he said.

The Democratic Party and other pro-democracy parties made a strong showing in the last LegCo election in 2016 but many former legislators have since been disqualified or arrested or have fled overseas.

Of the seven Democratic Party candidates to be elected in 2016, six were later arrested under a national security law which came into force in June 2020. Three are behind bars awaiting trial, one was granted bail and two were not charged while the seventh, Ted Hui, fled Hong Kong.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.